When I was in School, I had read a poem called “An Elegy written in a Country Churchyard”, it talked about villagers living in an idyllic town, lacking in ambition, but maybe gifted with inherent talent, there was a line which read “Many a flowers were born to bloom unseen and waste their sweetness on desert air” – That poem stayed with me, especially these lines. Paterson reminded me of the same feeling, a bus driver living in an idyllic town with his gorgeous wife and an affable dog. He wakes up every day at around the same time, goes to his job, comes back, talks to his wife and then hits to the same bar with his pug and it continues, much like his life.
Filmmakers since time immemorial have been urging people to break free from the shackles of monotony, chase your dreams they say, explore the world, excitement is glamoured, it’s wrapped in terms like dreams and passion, mundane doesn’t get our appreciation, a life of inertia and inactivity has been mocked, time and again. Paterson turns the formula on its head, Jim is celebrated for creating a world where the silence speaks more than words, and this is his finest character study since Broken Flowers, he presents life in a life-like form, there’s no real conflict, no midlife crisis, no dysfunctional characters, and no dramatic realizations.
In a scene from the film, a lover, heart broken by rejection decides to commit suicide but his object of affection is unmoved, she believes, some people love to be dramatical as if mocking the exaggeration of human emotions. It’s not as if the couple are devoid of emotions, the man writes poems, while his wife dreams of being a country singer, in her own little universe she’s the best in the world, the child like happiness when her husband says she could buy a guitar is heartfelt.
Even if there’s not much of a plot, there’s a story going on, a story that ends like a sort of tragedy, but that’s not the point of the film. It doesn’t want to tell a story, its a philosophical music meant to make you reflect on your life, like the poetry of a young child, life doesn’t rhyme, but waterfalls can also be rainfall, perspectives, that’s all there is. Minimalism has always been Jim’s forte, but here he wants us to realize that even a thing as trivial as matchbox can inspire romance and poetry, he makes us realise that you need to let go, if something is lost, it might not come back but “sometimes an empty page presents the most possibilities”.
It’s a celebration of the mundane, of finding elation in the monotony, smiling listening to an unknown person’s conversation, of finding in happiness in anything, it’s a beautiful world, the flame of desires need not be rekindled every time. You might not get all you want, but what you have, can be a source of contentment. As Paterson, living in Paterson, listening to similar comments, and loved by his Guitar loving wife says (Golshifteh Farahani looks like a dream and doesn’t miss a beat), he once read a poem in which there was a line “Would you rather be a fish?”, and though remains the same, the name of animal keeps changing, but in his head he always remembers the part with the fish, you don’t need to explore and know everything, the universe is infinite, the possibilities endless, but only a few things stay with you and you need to hold on to that, and that’s the essence of life, Aha!